At that time, back in the city, Peter Adessi was holding an ice-pack to his forehead and cursing all suspects that felt the urge to run, especially through very slippery mud littered with rocks. Petey Adessi was attempting a passe muraille up the side of his house and was failing spectacularly. Jenny Adessi was trying to charm the summer school teacher into forgetting that she hadn't done any of her make-up work. And Melissa Adessi, well, she was trying to discreetly text-message someone, keeping the phone out of sight of everyone else on the ship (they weren't supposed to have brought anything they could use to contact the mainland with).
But now it's time to return to the adults vacationing in Washington D.C....
I woke up to a finger poking me in the side. I peeked through my eyelashes and then sighed and opened them all the way. “Zack, dear, is there a reason you're poking me?”
My son whipped his hand behind his back and gave me the purest, most innocent look a five year old could manage. “What do you mean, Daddy?” I stared at him for a long moment, and the face finally cracked. “You weren't awake,” he explained – and I use that term waaaay lightly.
“C'mere, Zacko,” I said, reaching out with the intent to tickle him. Whatever else my son might be, he wasn't stupid; he knew that I was going to tickle him. He shrieked and jumped off the bed.
Once he got far enough away that I wasn't able to just reach out and grab him, he put his hands on hips and stuck his nose in the air. “My name,” he said, use a dramatic voice picked up from one too many soap operas, “Is Zack. Not Zacky, and certainly not Zacko.”
Despite his intelligence, Zack had rather misjudged my speed at getting out of bed. I was up and tickling him before he had a chance to do anything. “Zacko Zacko bo-Backo, banana fanna fo-Facko, me my mo-Macko... Zacko!” I sung at him as I tickled him.
He shrieked with laughter. “Nooo! No name game!” he fairly howled. “No tickle!”
Now, there's only so long you can tickle somebody before getting bored of it, so about a minute later I stopped, to give both of us a chance to breathe. The second he wasn't gasping for air, Zack was up and moving – this time to the center of Max's bed, where he proceeded to jump up and down, singing, “Max, Max, bo-Bax, banana fanna fo-Fax, me my mo-Max, Maaaax!” He then paused, considering the words he'd just sang.
I nodded faux-seriously. “I know, Max isn't fun to play the name game with,” I told him.
This got his attention focused on me. “Daddy Daddy bo-Baddy, banana fanna fo-Faddy, me my mo-Maddy, Daddy!” he hollered, not even bothering with staying in tune any longer. Not that he'd been on tune before, but he'd at least been making an effort.
There was a knock on the door connecting our room to the teenagers, and I called, “Come in!” Max was making grumbling noises, probably about Zack jumping on his bed, and I was rattling through drawers looking for clothing I actually wanted to wear.
Kit came through the door, looking like he'd been run over by a manatee on steroids – look, I know it's a weird analogy, but it just came to me, alright? He was followed by Otto, who looked better, but slightly annoyed (which I got a rather silly thrill from; I really don't like that kid). This, of course, lead to Zack cheerfully bouncing around them singing, “Otto Otto bo-Botto, banana fanna fo-Fotto, me my mo-Motto, Otto!”
“What, don't I count?” Kit asked the five year old with a pout.
Zack rolled his eyes but humored his big brother. “Kit Kit bo-Bit, banana fanna fo-Fit, me my mo-Mit, Kit.”
“Well, you don't have to sound so bored with it,” Kit said with a sniff. Zack rolled his eyes again, and then tackled him to the ground. That's my son, attention span of... something with no attention span at all.
Despite my constant whining to the contrary, I'm actually pretty fit, which meant the walk from the nearest metro station to the Washington Monument wasn't exactly hard. I didn't even whine this time around, as the part of my brain that was always five years old was telling me that maybe if I wasn't always whining, and complaining, and being sarcastic about everything, then maybe Max would still like me. Which was weird, because even when I had been five I hadn't really cared if people liked me – I mean, I didn't like people, so why should I make them like me? But I had never been disliked but somebody I actually liked (mostly because I tended to not like people until they liked me).
Combining that with my attitude as a child (and, fuck, even now), I totally had at least one personality disorder. As we entered the monument, I promised myself that the second we got home, I was getting myself a psychiatrist. A good one.
And I was going to haul Zack, at least, in with me, I decided as I watched him refuse to move away from the wall his back was pressed up against. “Come on, Zack, there's a great view from this window,” I tried. This seemed to just freak him out more, and it suddenly came to me what his problem was – the boy was scared of heights. I sighed. “Zack, this building has been standing for, like, a hundred years.”
Zack gave me a glower that not only rivaled, but quite possibly beat, my own glare. “That means it's old. Old things break easier,” he said stubbornly, not moving.
I would argue with him, but... he had a point. I shook my head, but Max solved the problem by picking up the now-screeching Zack and carrying him over to one of the windows.
Everyone seemed pretty occupied, although I had been avoiding Max the whole morning (and he didn't appear to care), and there was definitely something going on with the teenagers, as they weren't talking to each other and both jumped at any distraction possible. If my life was a cliche, I would say that you could cut the tension between us all with a butter-knife.
So I did what I always do. “I'm going for a walk,” I called out to the other members of my 'party'.
Max snorted. “Try not to get arrested this time, alright?”
I didn't bother responding, mostly because I was afraid that my response might include crying, and dude. I may be turning into an emo teenage girl, but Ryan Galloway does not cry in public. Even when he's been shot. Because when he's shot, he's either unconscious or whining. These are the constants. You cannot change them.
Instead, I stalked out of the monument, back unnaturally straight, especially for a born sloucher like me. I relaxed a little more in the fresh air and after a few blocks, was feeling more like my normal asshole-ish self. But wait, was that- nah, it couldn't be. But maybe it was. I started walking faster, fully intent on my target. Or, I was until a hand abruptly covered my mouth and nose, and before I could begin to struggle, I inhaled the sickly sweet smell of chloroform. Ohshit, my brain thought, one word. Ohshit. And then, blackness.
While Ryan was being abducted – not kidnapped, he was far too old to be kidnapped – Max and the kids finished their staring out windows and other various activities in the world's largest phallic symbol and began to leave.
“Hold on,” Kit said suddenly, shocking the others into actually, well, holding on, as Kit hadn't voluntarily spoken the entire morning. “Shouldn't Ryan be back by now?”
Max frowned and pulled out his cell phone to check that it was on. It was. “Well, he hasn't called, so he's probably not been arrested again.” He put the phone back in his pocket and shrugged. “He probably got distracted by a shiny object and wandered off. If he's not back by dinner, I'll call him. Now, let's go to the World War II Memorial, Zack can play in the water.”
Otto opened his mouth to say that no, you really weren't supposed to actually get in the water, but then decided to pretend he was human and go with the moment and keep his mouth shut for once.
My first thought upon waking was, 'Did I get run over again?' The second thought was, 'Damn, I'm cold'. 'Cause, you know, I was. That sort of cold you get when the windchill's sixteen below zero, and even though you have central heating, it's still really cold, and you're not wearing socks, so your feet feel like actual blocks of ice. I groaned, and tried to roll over in search of warmth (and where, by the way, was this damn cold in the middle of summer? Nowhere, that's where. I mean, like, Antarctica, but nowhere within a few hours of D.C., and I hadn't been out that long).
However, I couldn't roll over. Because I was chained to the floor. I finally opened my eyes and peered around the dim, dank cellar room. I appeared to be alone, and being alone always makes me twitchy, so I started rattling my chains in the hope to get some attention. Unlike most everything I do, it actually worked, as a shadowy figure appeared at the far end of the room.
“Oh, oh, lemme say it,” I half-begged at the lady (hey, shadows can have long hair and boobs). When I didn't get a response, I pulled out smug grin number fifty-seven, and drawled, “Hello, Clarice.” I've always wanted to say that.
(Look, in my defense, I had been drugged, so how could I even pretend to be coherent? I'd like to see you try under those circumstances. Bet you couldn't.)
My cheekiness got the response that I was looking for – well, actually, I had been looking for any response, to make sure that the boobed shadow wasn't actually, like, a robot or something, so any response at all would have technically been the response I was looking for. But I always like the response I got – a frustrated growling noise.
What came next, though, not so much what I'd been looking for. The boobed shadow stalked forward, and before I could make another smart-ass comment, she whipped forward a... well, whip. She'd obviously had some practice with it, because it caught me right across the mouth. And yeah, I'm not ashamed to admit it, I cried out and then also just plain cried. Look, being smacked across the face with a whip fucking hurts, I bet you anything that even Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger would cry.
Through dazed and teary eyes, and over my coughing sobbing noises, I saw the shadow stalk back out of the room, and heard her clanking some things around in – whatever room was off of this one, I guess. Now, I was in excruciating pain, but that was no reason to act like a third grader (hell, I hadn't acted like a third grader even when I was a third grader, and being questioned about a certain breaking-and-entering that I was surely not responsible for). This meant, of course, that I was Not Going to Panic, and Would Instead Use The Cell Phone In My Pocket That She'd Been too Stupid to Remove From Me.
You know, my former English teacher would probably shoot me for even thinking a sentence in all capitals like that. But that didn't change the fact that it was true. Miss Shadow over there hadn't bothered to relieve me of my cell phone, which meant I had a rather large chance of getting out of here with no more damage than the blood welling up along my lips.
It was kind of tricky, as I was, y'know, chained to the wall. Thankfully, if I sat up, the chains because lax enough for me to move my left hand surreptitiously into my pocket and opened my cell phone. After some fumbling to turn the sound down enough so that it didn't give me away instantly, I dialed 9-1-1 (with a mental recall to the “What's the number for 9-1-1?!” scene in the Little Rascals).
I could hear a tinny voices saying, “9-1-1, what's your emergency?”, and given that it was pretty quiet in the room, I instantly started to talk over the sound, despite the rather intense pain such an activity caused.
“Look, I'm sorry about my earlier crack. But seriously, why did you kidnap me? I mean, who kidnaps Ryan Galloway? I'm not exactly up there on the importance ladder.” The tinny voice, hearing this, went quiet – which was nice, as it meant my phone wouldn't be found and shut off.
“Oh yes, poor harmless little Ryan Galloway. You know what you did!” Okay, boobed shadow was definitely a she, a rather high-pitched, shrill she.
When it doubt, bluff it out! “You'll have to help me out here, I do a lot of shit. Which one in particular was I kidnapped for this time?”
I got another whipping for my effort, this time across my chest instead of the mouth. She answered me as I cried out. “It's your fault that Charles is in prison!” she shrilled out at me.
Sadly enough, it took me a second to realize what she was talking about. My uncle, Charles Olivier, who had killed at least thirteen people in various schemes to become and then stay mayor of the city. Around two years ago, I discovered his plot and my cousin Brad wound up shooting him before he shot me. He survived, but was pretty instantly put on trial and convicted due to the incriminating evidence on his computer and the testimony of his main lackey.
As this was clicking in my head, something else also clicked: the way this lady was speaking, it was reminiscent of the way that members of a cult spoke of the leader – you know, the way Scientologists speak about Tom Cruise. Some nasty implications were snowballing in my head, but given that my head is a very strange place ninety-nine percent of the time, I went for some back-up.
“Ah, yes. But why do you care? I wasn't aware that my uncle had a fan club.” By this point, I pretty much expected the whip that flicked at me after my comment, but that didn't mean it hurt less.
“I am his wife!” she shrilled at me.
“Funny, you don't look like my aunt. Did you get plastic surgery?” The last part of my words were said in a lightly teasing tone, as if I wasn't being held captive and being whipped and Miss Crazy was actually my aunt. And yeah, I know that being mouthy to the person holding the whip wasn't one of my smarter plans, but I couldn't stop. I mean, it's sort of inherent to my personality, being an asshole. I could probably change that, but I'm also a lazy asshole, so I don't often try.
Sometime during my latest smart-assed comment, she'd learn how to do two things at once. Which meant she started wailing on me with the whip while she responded to my comment. “He doesn't,” SMACK, “Love,” SMACK, “That bitch!” SMACK. “He loves,” SMACK, “ME!”
I was to busy slumping over in pain and semi-consciousness to respond to that or even to wait for the next smack of the whip – I'd evidentially pissed her off enough that she was no longer bothering with precision, so the strikes were going all over. And by 'all over', I mean rather painfully focusing on the most tender parts of my body (no, not that part, I was able to protect that specific area).
I had the woozy thought of 'gee, I hope the cops managed to get a location by now. They got that technology, right? I could swear I'd seen it on Law & Order. Or CSI. Or maybe Oz. No, not Oz, they didn't do much phone calls in Oz, except for like that one time when Keller called in and ratted on Beecher so Beecher would get sent back to prison...' At this point, my thoughts changed to 'I really need to stop watching so much TV, especially canceled TV.'
My rambling pain-induced thoughts were knocked aside by the stomping of boots overhead, and a call of “METRO POLICE, COME OUT NOW!” And, of course, the phrase repeated again, as was required by... well, who knew by what, but that didn't change the fact that the police have to announce themselves twice before charging in. Except wait, didn't that only apply to, like, abandoned buildings? Hey, maybe I was in an abandoned building! But then-
This particular chain of thought could have continued well into the night, except that Miss Clarice Crazypants seemed to panic at the idea of police and ditched the whip in exchange for a gun. A Glock 9mm, if my handgun knowledge was accurate (which, given my choice of employment both previous and current, it had damned well better be, or I was in trouble – actually, scratch that, I was in trouble anyway, given that she was leveling it at me).
Going against every villain rule there was, she didn't bother for a final speech or anything of that sort. She just calmly shot me, twice, and then I was too busy screaming and passing out to notice anything more than her running out of the room.